Lufkin welcomes a professional arena football team

Lufkin welcomes a professional arena football team

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - They call themselves the East Texas Rattlers.

They're a professional arena football team starting up in Lufkin.

"It's football with ADD. It's a really exciting brand of football with high scoring, lots of action, hard hitting, and people wind up in the stands all the time. It's just an awesome brand of football and we're super excited to bring it here to Lufkin," said Rory Stringer, owner of the East Texas Rattlers.

The team developed after the semi-professional football team, the East Texas Thunder, folded after they no longer had a field available to play on.

"When these guys had a chance to play in front of those fans again, it was a dream come true and then jerked right under them," said head coach Buddy Dixon, who also coached the East Texas Thunder. "Now with the Rattlers, they get another chance."

EJ Shankle also played for the Thunder when the team fell through.

"It was a big disappointment to be so excited to bring football back to Lufkin, build a fan base, and have people excited about playing football here again," said Shankle.

Now the former Panther gets a second chance to play in front of his hometown.

"I've always loved football. It's always been a part of me. To have a chance to play it again, it's huge for me," said Shankle.

The East Texas Rattlers will call the Expo Center in Lufkin their home.

Director of the Expo Center, Burt Hairgrove, said they jumped on the opportunity to bring arena football to Lufkin.

"Everybody kind of equates the Expo Center with horses, cattle, and rodeos. This place is here for the whole community, and to have a new category of event s like arena football, we are totally excited about reaching out there and getting a new segment of the Lufkin folks to come out, and enjoy something new out here at the Expo," said Hairgrove.

Although the Rattlers are in the beginning stages of putting everything together, championship titles look to be a promise with the East Texas talent they have.

"I realize it's our first year, but anything less than a national championship playoff situation for us will be a disappointment," said Dixon.

"We love our football in East Texas and we love winning football. That's what we're going to bring to East Texas, is winning arena football," said Stringer.

The team has already ordered turf for the Expo Center.

They're still in the process of recruiting players. Within the next two months, they will be holding invitational try outs to be ready for the upcoming season in March of next year.

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